For the second year running Chinatown has taken part in the London Food Festival, putting together six of its best restaurants to form a specially guided food trail with the aim of allowing visitors to experience a variety of the Malaysian, Vietnamese, Szechuan and Classic Cantonese meals the area has to offer.
The decision to go on a Chinatown food crawl with a relatively significant hangover could obviously have gone either way. I did the food trail last year with Sarah so I knew what was in store. There were no taster sized portions but each restaurant offered up an entire meal (that’s six meals each with a beer…) so we came out the other end feeling a bit sleepy and delirious but quite drunk and happy.
To start we headed to Dumpling’s Legend because I love dumplings and I didn’t want to run out of room. They seemed a bit confused as to why we were there, and we were sashayed around a few tables before being seated upstairs with the rest of the food trailers. We each had a portion of the Sui Long Bao steamed soup dumplings (one vegetable and one pork) which were really delicious and finished them off with a Tiger beer. This was a good start! Then we headed to Plum Valley and both had the chicken in black bean sauce with rice. I remember Plum Valley from last year and I think they had the same mediocre dish. However the restaurant is really cosy and atmospheric so we stayed there a while longer for another drink and to get a grip on our post-Saturday night heads.
Next on the trail was Leicester House who’d suffered an electrical fire earlier in the week and so had been opportunistically replaced by Leong’s Legend Continues (conspiracy theories are beyond the scope of this review). We tried the braised pork belly with rice which was really tender and tasty but didn’t look anywhere near as good as the dim sum everyone was enjoying around us.
We went to Nusa Dua for the Indonesian cinnamon potato dumplings which were delicious and then to Orient London for the sweet and sour pork rice which was a bit unremarkable. And finally we staggered to Rasa Sayang for their tasting platter of Malaysian-Singaporean street food which included chicken satay, nasi lemak and curry laksa. This was definitely my favourite – as it was last year. I felt a rush of pride at the realisation that I’d managed to eat the whole thing followed by an overwhelming urge to have a nap. It really was hard work.
Knowing which restaurant to choose amongst the hoard in Chinatown is an almost impossible task so the trail is a really good way to try some of the more authentic cuisines that Chinatown has to offer. But although all of the food was nice it did feel like some of the restaurants weren’t offering up their best dishes which was a shame as I’d probably only be able to recommend Rasa Sayang and Dumpling’s Legend based on today.
Restaurant costs vary – visit the Chinatown website for more information